Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Louisville Cardinals

Coach Jeff Brohm

Ashton Gillotte

Bryan Hudson

Jawhar Jordan

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon once again. It is 1:30, which means here in the grand ballroom on the second floor of the Westin in Uptown Charlotte, we welcome in the Cardinals from Louisville and new head coach Jeff Brohm. We'll ask Coach to come up and then we'll meet with each of our student-athletes.

Q. In talking to people up at Louisville, they talk about when you got there, it was so evident you were wanting to change the culture, whether it was even giving tours of the facilities, making sure people are involved, wanted. How important was that for you from day one to instill a Jeff Brohm/Louisville type culture there?

JEFF BROHM: I think it's important that just in general, whether you are changing culture or not, that are you invested in the program and that you are doing your part to not only help your team achieve success and get better, but also opening the doors to many people that want to be a part of it.

Like everything, your fan base is important. I feel like Louisville we have a tremendous passionate fan base that wants to see their team succeed and do well, that wants to feel a part of it, and we want to make them feel a part of it.

Like anything, you have your immediate family, you have your team family, but then you have your extended family of anybody that wants to help and experience a great time and help building a program and having success.

So we're excited to get things underway. We've got a good nucleus of ball players that work really hard and want to achieve great things.

Myself as a head coach, I have to do my part and put in the work to help us have answers to problems, to be able to fix things immediately throughout the season, and our assistants have to do the same thing.

Then it trickles down to our team, but I think we all put in the work and we all are invested in our community and fan base feels that investment that in the end good things can happen.

Q. You took over a Purdue team that was not just a Big Ten, but a perennial Power Five bottom dweller, and you took them to heights that that program hadn't seen in years, and you come into Louisville with a lot of expectation taking over a team that's in a much better place, most people would say, than where that Purdue team was. So how do you go about, like, hey, I expect greatness out of this team, I expect a high ceiling, but also being realistic in terms of, like, this is -- I wouldn't want to let down or whatever the case may be in terms of if you are expecting national championship right now, we may not be there. How do you balance that per se?

JEFF BROHM: Well, personally I like challenges. I look forward to them. Even when I took the Purdue job, I remember asking a lot of colleagues of mine when I took it, what do you think? Should I take this job? Probably 95% said, heck no, don't take that.

To me I like building a winning football team. Without question, coming here to the University of Louisville is another challenge. It's unique, but yes, we have some really good football players on our team, some guys that have had success.

We watched a team last year that got better as the year went on, that the last half of the season the defense played at a high level. Really you just take every team that you have, you try to figure out what are our strengths, what are some things we can get better at, how can we do that? Are there things we need to do to develop certain guys here? Do we need to add a few pieces to the puzzle to make things more competitive?

In today's age of college athletics it's about winning now. It's about doing it, in my opinion, with our current football team and any new pieces we've added, and we want to do that in year one, and it's important that you do that.

I just think if you build a competitive environment where our guys are working hard every day, where they understand if you put in the work, you'll have a chance to do great things. They aren't scared of a challenge or obstacles. They feel like we have a group of coaches that are going to work with them on a daily basis to help them improve and get better, that anything can happen.

We're going to take this challenge head-on and look every opponent directly in the eye and go out there and compete on a weekly basis come game day. I think if you do that, and you are willing going into the season knowing that, you know what, yeah, we could lose a game or two, how are you going to handle those losses will determine how the season goes.

If we can find ways to improve, find ways to get better, find ways to win some close games, find ways to win on the road, it can definitely lead to success.

Q. It was a pretty significant transfer portal class, both in terms of the number and also the quality of the players that are coming in. What was your pitch to that group? How do you manage blending them in with some of the players that are still left over from last team?

JEFF BROHM: I think we have a lot to sell at the University of Louisville. It's a tremendous college sports town, great facilities, passionate fan base. There is no pro sports in our town, but we provide a great city of a lot of things to do even outside of the game. That's an easy sell.

I think we've had some great talented football players that have gone on and done great things at the NFL level throughout the entire history. Right now the highest paid corner in the NFL is from University of Louisville. Highest paid quarterback, University of Louisville.

You can come here and achieve all your goals and do it at a high level. When it comes to our football team and adding pieces, it's about being honest. It's about understanding that our goal is to build a championship-level team and for our really good players on the team, they know that in order for them to play well and have success, they can do it a lot better with really good players around them.

So you just try to piece that together. Our guys know that the best players are going to play, but if you are ready to play, and you can contribute, we're going to get you on the field as well, and you can prove to us that you should earn more playing time.

I just think the fact that I'm fortunately going on my tenth year as a head coach, you've been battle-tested. I've been in some tough football games where we found a way to win against opponents that maybe we weren't expected to win against.

We found ways to get to Big Ten championship game at a place that had not done that ever before, and then we found ways to get up on off the ground when we got knocked down when we shouldn't.

How can we piece that together here? I just think it's about being honest with your guys, being truthful, but putting in the work and then putting in the work. In my opinion if you do that, you can win football games at a high level.

Q. Now, last year I spoke with Malik Cunningham who is now officially in the league. What is that like being able to see those guys? You had mentioned you had some guys in the league. What's that like being able to send them off into the bigger world as well as what is it like filling that absence of hem this season?

JEFF BROHM: Well, any team your players are able to move on and get to the National Football League, it's a great accomplishment. It's not easy to do. These young men put in a lot of time, a lot of hours, a lot of effort, a lot of hard work in order to achieve that goal.

While they're doing it, we want to make sure we help teach them how to live a balanced life of getting your education, finding something you want to do beyond the game of football, getting better off the field as well and relating to people and having a good life in general.

But when it comes to Malik Cunningham, I was a fan of his from afar. Watched him play a lot. Dynamic player. Could carry a team on his shoulders.

He gets an opportunity now to go play for the Patriots and probably assume a dual role of a lot of different things. So we're happy for him. I just think that all these guys in college athletics, they work hard. They want to have a chance to play at the highest level. As a former player myself, you want to provide that for them.

I think if you do that and do it over the long haul, and you do it the right way, it will continue to bring in others as well that want to achieve those same goals.

Q. I have a question. It's two parts. The first part is that you actually got coached by Howard Schnellenberger from 1989 to 1993 and recently they just announced that Louisville and Miami are going to be competing for that trophy. Can you talk to us about what your relationship is with your old ball coach? Then the second part is you are a former Louisville football player, who is now returning to his alumni to coach. What does that mean to you specifically?

JEFF BROHM: Well, on the first question, Coach Schnellenberger was a Hall of Fame football coach not only at the college level, but also in the NFL. Was the offensive coordinator for the only undefeated team in National Football League team history. He was a builder of programs, whether it be Louisville, Miami, Florida Atlantic university. He took on things that others were scared to take on, and he found a way to win doing that, and that's not easy to do. I have a great admiration for him and his wife Beverly.

I got a chance to play for him, coach with him for one year. When it came to developing teams and instilling a work ethic second to none, getting his players to believe that they're better than they even were, so any time they took the field, they were able to take on that challenge. He was the best at it.

I was very close with Coach Schnellenberger. Unfortunately, he passed this past year, but his wife, Beverly, I'm in contact with her. To get the Miami Louisville trophy winner named after him is a great tribute. I'm excited about that.

When it comes to coming back to where I'm from and where I played at, it's a great honor. It's a great opportunity. At the same time, yeah, it requires some pressure. I don't want to let people down. There's a lot of people that may think a certain way about me, and I want to make sure we build on that.

In order to do that, you've got to win, and you've got to play a competitive brand of football, and you have to find a way to elevate the program, and you have to be consistent in your approach and be a good person along the way.

I just think you have to learn from your mistakes in the past. You have to piece it all together. You have to be aggressive in your approach, and you have to attack every day in order to win.

I think one thing when it's right in your backyard you have to go to bed every night knowing, you know what, you better work a little extra hard today and this week in order to get to done because you want to be able to look in the mirror when the season is over.

Q. Is there anything about this team that coming in to become their head coach so far throughout spring ball and heading into fall camp that has surprised you that you from afar, from an outside perspective didn't quite have an awareness of but amongst getting into the weeds and doing the coaching and all of that you are, like, oh, wow, this seem much better at this thing or, you know, very different in their philosophy of doing this thing than I would have imagined coming in?

JEFF BROHM: I think every team -- this team when we came in, they've been battle-tested. They've had some ups. They've had some downs.

They're hungry. They want to achieve greatness. We've got some really good components to our team, some great experience. They've done a lot of really good things mixed in with some youth that maybe is right on the cusp of getting that done.

Then we've added some new pieces to provide competition and to try to help us win, but this team wants to win. They can smell it. They've worked hard every day to get it done. They understand there's no shortcuts to success. They're really good teammates to each other.

They're willing to lay it on the line, so I just think I have to provide them with an environment with our coaches that it's competitive every day. Once we get into fall camp, we're not only working on a lot of small things, but we're providing an atmosphere that's very competitive. It's almost as much game day as you can make it. So that when they come to the game, that they can play relaxed, they can cut loose, and go have some fun.

We love this crew of guys. It's a good group. We tell them all the time, everybody is happy now, but how are you going to be able to handle the season once it gets going, whether there are some ups and downs and wins and losses and how are you going to be able to refocus and get it done? That's going to be the key.

Our guys have worked really hard. When you come to media day, you know the season is right around the corner, and we're excited to get game one kicked off.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you. If you'll switch places with Ashton, we'll spend time with our defensive lineman out of Boca.

Questions for Ashton Gillotte?

Q. Ashton, you're known as a defensive lineman that's a ball of energy and an extremely explosive first step, but in watching your film, I see so much more than that. Can you kind of break down what goes into developing a pass rush plan for you? Is this something that you go into the game with certain things that you want to do, or is it a play-by-play adjustment based on what you are seeing? Also, beyond that, is there a player that you model your game after in term of how you approach the game?

ASHTON GILLOTTE: So week by week, I mean, you study your opponent, so your pass rush plan is always going to be different. You're going to break down different opponents different ways.

Something I like to look at is hand placement where a tackle is putting his hands, what moves first, how far back his foot is. Those are things that you can do to get a jump on another lineman.

So a bit of it is beforehand, but in the moment you have to prepare play by play. If I'm doing this move, I set it up. Now I can do a spin off of it. Something like that.

My modeling of a game, I really try to watch Von Miller a lot. I like Von Miller as an edge rusher. Max Crosby is a good one. George Karlaftis is someone that played under my current coach. He has been great to learn from.

THE MODERATOR: I'll ask one from the podium here. It's sort of a follow-up to what you were just asked. You've been pretty steady your first two years. There seems to be another gear in you for this season. How is it that you are going to find that next level of your game?

ASHTON GILLOTTE: I think it comes down to preparation and mental preparedness. The physical aspects are something that everyone thinks about how to get faster, how to be stronger, but I think especially this year going into the season, I've taken a lot of steps to mentally prepare myself to be in these situations, whether it's opponent prep or just watching NFL guys just seeing how they work.

That's really what separates NFL players besides athletics. It's their understanding of the game. I'm trying to model after them and build on top of that.

Q. In terms of year to year in college we all know that a player's body changes a lot based on their goals and based on what they want to be better at, what they want to work on, especially as an edge rusher and all that good stuff. So in what ways have you worked to change your body this offseason? Has it been body comp? Has it been getting bigger? Has it been getting more lean? What in particular have you worked on in terms of that strength aspect that you talked about in terms of getting your body better and getting your most out of your natural athleticism?

ASHTON GILLOTTE: So I think in the last scheme it rewarded me to be bigger. So I was playing around 275. Considering the new scheme, I'm a true edge, so I've been leaning out per se, so trying to drop, body comp, body fat, and playing down to around 265, just to get your body feeling better to be on edge, get faster. Those kind of things go into it. That's really about it.

THE MODERATOR: Your last question from the podium. You were a tight end in high school. How much did playing tight end in high school help you now on the defensive side of the ball in college?

ASHTON GILLOTTE: I think playing tight end in high school helped me in the way that I understand what offenses are looking for when they're playing a tight end over a defensive end. Obviously I was involved in a lot of blocking, a couple of slip routes.

So being a tight end and being tight end-minded, it allows you to know what they're trying to do, if they're split out a little bit, you can -- they're probably trying to seal you. Little things like that that can give you an advantage over a tight end because especially this year, I'm in a lot of tight end matchups. I think that's just it.

THE MODERATOR: I think that works. Thank you, Ashton. You can switch places with Bryan Hudson. We'll spend some time from our offensive lineman from Georgetown, Kentucky.

First question for Bryan?

Q. When we talked about two-sport athletes in college, it's usually football and baseball or something else, but track and field, how does participating in the discus and the shot put help you with your footwork on the offensive line? Because those are both technique-oriented sports or positions, and it's all about footwork there as well.

BRYAN HUDSON: Yeah, there's a big correlation between the two. Like you said, the big thing is the footwork. In track and field, especially in shot put and discus, you have to find a way to throw a 16-pound ball as far as you can just within a 7-and-a-half-foot circle.

Having that footwork, the balance, being able to kind of build on your athleticism and it's very technique-oriented, like you mentioned, just like the O-line play and on the football side of it.

So the two go hand in hand. In the weight room they're very similar athletes, being a thrower and an offensive lineman. Just being very explosive, very powerful, being strong and very powerful in the unnatural and uncomfortable position is a big part of it too and just being able to put on your athleticism.

So the two definitely go hand in hand. Track and field has helped me tremendously, especially early on in development and even right now with football.

THE MODERATOR: I do want to follow that up from the podium. You still hold the state 3A record for the shot put, 63 feet, 9.5 inches. What's the key in getting that pellet 63 feet down the field?

BRYAN HUDSON: There's a lot that goes into it. Like I said, it's very similar to playing offensive line. It all starts from the ground up. Just being able to have that explosiveness from the hips and just being able to hit the right positions and have that leverage on the ball just like offensive line you need leverage on the D-line and the defensive opponent.

A lot goes into it, but it's just being able to be explosive and be powerful and be very accurate with the positions that you hit to be able to be successful with it.

Q. Bryan, you were a player who was a leader on this offensive line during the 2021 season when you all were one of the better units in the country, quite frankly. Last year the offensive line seemed to take a little bit of a step back for whatever reason. So what is it that you personally are looking forward to in leading this team and leading that unit into becoming the top 25% or higher of every pretty much grading statistic, of every rushing statistic, of every time allowed per pass statistic? What goes into getting that offensive line performance back to that level in this upcoming season?

BRYAN HUDSON: I think it all starts with the preparation. Like you all mentioned and what's been talked about, we've brought in a lot of new guys, even into the O-line room even this summer. There are several new faces. A lot of guys with a lot of experience, both newcomers and returners that have played a lot of ball. That's a big plus.

It makes my job a little bit easier being the center and being in more of a leadership role that the guys, they don't need to be babysat or anything like that. They all have that motor. They all have that motive and commitment level that is required to accomplish that as an offensive line.

Just going through that preparation, learning this new playbook that we have, and really being able to process that with movement, process that against all the different fronts that we're going to be up against this season.

But, yeah, it just starts with preparation and getting in the film room. Along with that, just on-the-field work. Staying after extra, after workouts, staying after extra after the practices that we had some summer and now going into fall camp has been huge for us. I think we have all the potential that -- the sky is the limit for this offensive line as well as for this team. Like I said, we have a lot of new faces, and we have a lot of talent, a lot of athletic linemen in the room. So adapting the new system has made that a little bit easier, just having those athletes, but I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do with all the potential.

THE MODERATOR: Bryan, thank you. You can switch places with Mr. Jordan. We have about five minutes with Jawhar, our running back from Long Island, New York.


Q. As Louisville's leading rusher last season, how do you think your ability to run the football will complement your new responsibility as a pass catcher?

JAWHAR JORDAN: With Brohm's offense it's given me the opportunity to showcase my versatility as a running back. With the game evolving, you want to be able to do multiple things. So with this offense I'm able to catch the ball and hopefully I can match the way I run the ball with catching the ball as well.

Q. In terms of your career so far, your first three years saw limited touches, limited action and all that, and then last year saw an immense jump where you had more yards from scrimmage than you had in your entire career combined before that point. What led to that jump? Was it simply a matter of getting the opportunity? Was it the game slowing down for you? Was it anything in particular that led to it, or what caused that?

JAWHAR JORDAN: Definitely it was just preparing for the opportunity, winning off the opportunity, and staying mentally ready for the opportunity. I just kept working and just stayed patient and eventually it came. So I just made the best of my opportunity.

THE MODERATOR: A question from the podium.

A lot of people are amazed year after year that kick returners perform at the high level that they do. What is it about practice? What is it about preparation when it comes to kick returning that's made you so good the last two years?

JAWHAR JORDAN: Really I just got to give credit to the guys that block for me. Coach Mas and last year our special teams coach, he gave us a game plan. We followed it, and we just executed it. I just do the easy part.

Q. Jawhar, running backs are smaller stature, always had that stigma that they can't run between the tackles, but you, in fact, had over 467 yards after contact. Can you expound on that stigma of running backs not being able -- smaller running backs not being able to run through the tackles when you actually prove that it can be done?

JAWHAR JORDAN: Really it's just a matter of respecting the game. I know this game is physical, and I respect that, and I take that serious. Just proving people wrong, I'm big on that. That's why I just run with heart.

THE MODERATOR: Mr. Jordan, a popular question to ask: Do you have to win a championship in order to call it a successful season?

JAWHAR JORDAN: No, sir. I believe a step forward is successful, so we had seven games -- or seven wins in the regular season, so just a step forward would make it a successful season.

THE MODERATOR: Louisville, thank you. Good luck this season.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
135336-2-1253 2023-07-25 18:32:00 GMT

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